Originally published in Matrix 188 on 07.07.2008
Reviewed by Martin McGrath
It is a mistake to think of watching a film as a passive experience. To properly enjoy cinema an audience, and the individual viewer, has to be willing to engage with the images flickering before them, they have to be willing to give something back. Any film worth watching will require the audience to work a bit to get the most from it.
And some films ask more of their audience than others.
Some films, often in black and white, with subtitles and a lot of smoking, ask you to concentrate hard on theme or setting. Some films will ask you to invest emotionally with characters whose circumstances might be wildly different from our own. And some films ask you to give flight to your imagination and to suspend your cynicism.
Doomsday asks an awful lot of its audience but none of those demands are made of the intellect, the emotions or the imagination.
To enjoy Doomsday an audience has to be willing to shut off those higher functions. They have to be willing to sit back in their seats, widen their eyes and allow their adrenal glands to take over. Those who remain conscious throughout the almost two hours of Neil Marshal’s latest adventure will get pleasure from recognising the various dystopias the director has stolen from to create this film (Mad Max, Escape from New York, 28 Days Later, Aliens… the list is almost endless). But the real pleasure (it’s a base, visceral, childish pleasure, but like a Mars bar, it remains a pleasure) to be had from Doomsday comes when you decide that you aren’t going to struggle against the tide of silliness, you’re just going to throw your hands up and go with the flow.
The story is that in the near future Scotland becomes the site of the outbreak of a terrible plague